Today we’d like to introduce you to Jennea Potter.
Jennea, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
Music was an integral part of my upbringing, and some of my best childhood memories are those of family gatherings with everyone playing an instrument and singing their favorite songs. These experiences inspired me to begin studying piano and music theory at an early age. Throughout my years of classical piano training, I won several medals for Texas Music Teachers Association State Theory exams, National Piano Guild adjudications, Piano Solo Competitions, Beethoven contests, Jazz and Sonatina festivals. Music has been my passion since I was a young child, and I wholeheartedly credit music for earning higher grades, SAT scores, and overall well-being. Fun fact – I received an award in 12th grade for making all A’s in school – grades 1-12.
In 1992, I began teaching private piano and early childhood music classes at a local recreation center on the weekends while pursuing my career as an International Knowledge Management consultant for PricewaterhouseCoopers. After teaching for a few months at the recreation center, I realized the need for an early childhood music program that was truly educational, something more than just entertaining the kids with a musical performance. Therefore, I designed a program to introduce children ages 18 months to five years to music theory along with singing and instrument play. In 2001, I decided to give up my career with PricewaterhouseCoopers and pursue my passion as a music teacher. I began teaching music classes full-time and founded Little Musicmaker LLC which provides quality, early childhood music education at child care facilities and Montessori schools.
In 2009, I expanded the private piano lesson portion of the business and opened MusicMaker Creative Arts Center of Southlake. We are thrilled to work with over 85 students from the Southlake community on a weekly basis providing them with a well-rounded education in music including piano, music theory, voice and composition. Our students regularly win Sonatina festivals, Piano Solo Contests, Original Composition contests and earn medals on TMTA Theory Tests.
I am celebrating my 18th year as an active member of the Music Teachers National Association, Texas Music Teachers Association, Fort Worth Music Teachers Association, National Guild of Piano Teachers. I have had the honor of serving as a board member of Fort Worth MTA for five years and currently serve as Vice President of Student Activities for FWMTA. One of my greatest honors will be celebrated this year as I will be inducted into the National Guild of Piano Teachers Hall of Fame.
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
It has not always been a smooth road, but it has been worth the bumps and roadblocks along the way. In my early twenties, I felt that pursuing a career with Pricewaterhouse was the logical and safe choice. However, in my heart, I just wanted to share my love for music with children and give every child I could a chance to discover what an amazing impact music can have on your life.
I was sitting in a staff meeting one day at the office, and it just hit me like a ton of bricks. How could I live with myself if I didn’t at least give making a career out of teaching music a try? So the next day, I put together a business plan, cashed out my 401k to start the business and turned in my resignation. I will be honest – several of my friends and family members thought I had lost my mind.
Being in a child-based business is tough because it takes time to earn the respect and trust of schools and parents. It is exciting to be in a place in my career now where my students are in high school and have been with me since they were two or three years old.
I would be sugarcoating things if I said that being a woman in business and in the music industry is easy. There are definitely times throughout my career that I have felt like you have to work so much harder to be heard and respected simply because you are a woman in business. However, when situations feel tough, I just step back and remember that working hard to accomplish my goals means providing more children with quality music lessons that will benefit them for the rest of their lives. Thinking of obstacles in that way makes me more determined to overcome those hurdles!
Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about MusicMaker Creative Arts Center & Little MusicMaker – what should we know?
At MusicMaker, our mission is to provide students with a complete music education in a fun and creative atmosphere. We have unique ways of teaching music theory through composition and other creative techniques. Improvisation is balanced with classical training, and students are encouraged to explore music from all periods including Baroque, Classical, Romantic and Contemporary. With a solid foundation in music theory and studying and playing music from many genres, our students are given the tools they need to enjoy music as a hobby or take it to a professional level.
At our MusicMaker Creative Arts Center in Southlake, we are known for our students receiving Superior and Superior Plus ratings in National Piano Guild Auditions and local competitions, theory medals and scholarships. One of our students was selected out of over 5,000 entries for two consecutive years as House of Blues Music Forward Foundation winner for Dallas! Our students compose, perform and appreciate that music has a profound positive impact on their well-being.
In our Little MusicMaker classes, we frequently receive feedback from parents on how amazed they are at their child’s ability to identify treble clef and bass clef at just two years old! Upon completion of the three-year Little MusicMaker program, they have a strong foundation in music and are prepared to succeed in private lessons.
Our retention rate at our MusicMaker center in Southlake always averages around 95%, and most of our students have been with the studio for four to eight years. I am very proud of those statistics because it really demonstrates we are developing life-long musicians, not just teaching them to play a few pieces.
Is there a characteristic or quality that you feel is essential to success?
Patience. When you have ideas or goals in mind for the business, it is easy to get caught up in wanting it to come to fruition immediately. Over the years, I have learned that being patient and letting time takes its’ course creates less stress and better outcomes. Being patient and keeping your eyes open along the way may open new doors or opportunities that you never expected!
Patience is not only important when it comes to business goals, but it is also vital with students. I have had students that hit a plateau, and the easy way out would be to suggest quitting lessons. With patience though, they can be guided through the rough patch and a way to spark their excitement for music again can be found. Just a little time and they are soaring to new levels in their music. It is truly heartwarming!
- Private Lessons $138 per month
- Group Lessons $100 per month
- Preschool Classes $35 per month
- Address: 190 West State Highway 114, Suite D, Southlake, TX 76092
- Website: www.MusicMakerSouthlake.com
- Phone: 214-632-4777
- Email: info@LittleMusicMaker.com
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MusicMaker-Creative-Arts-Southlake-Little-Musicmaker-134602813239656/